When you are the most competitive person in the room.

imageTrophies have marked victories since ancient times. The word’s original Greek translation generally meant ρόπαιον “of a turning” or “of a change”, and that from the verb τρέπω (trepo), “to turn, to alter”.

Several years ago, a reporter actually asked Tiger Woods why he continued to be so competitive when he had achieved so much. I immediately thought to myself, what a stupid question. He loves winning. And that’s exactly how he answered.

I can’t remember a time that I didn’t want to win. Name the topic.

It wasn’t a competition against other people so much as an exhibition of what I could achieve. And achieve I set out to do. I collected trophies.

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I still have the tags from when our neighborhood tennis team became the Atlanta city champs. When I was in sales, my commission check was a trophy of sorts every month. I would have died had I not made President’s Club every year.

My husband encouraged me to run that first 10k race in Chicago and he waited with me while they called off the winners. They didn’t announce age group awards so we went home. A few days later an envelope came in the mail. I had taken 3rd place for my age group. It may as well have been an Olympic medal.

My first sash in Kung Fu came during a camp out in the mountains. Several of us had started class about the same time and we all earned our yellow sash during the camp out. Then I moved to Ecuador and I missed almost a year of training.

The class went on without me and last summer my classmates all earned their green sashes. I was disappointed.

Weeks turned into months and I heard no word of being tested. If you’ve read my blog, you know I struggled during this time. I became frustrated, impatient. I thought I was ready. I overheard Sifu say during class one night, “Sashes aren’t that important.” I thought to myself, “What planet are you from?”

Caterpillars spend practically all of their time in search of food – for a life that spans 10 days to sometimes months. They mature through a series of stages where they moult, expand, harden and develop again.

Even after the metamorphosis, the newly born butterfly needs some time to spread its wings and begin to fly.

I remember the post I wrote where I committed to practice Kung Fu every day. It scared me to death to hit “Publish” because I knew then I was committed. The first week or two was a real effort.

Some days I dreaded that practice. I struggled to figure out what to practice and ended up doing the same things over and over. Eventually, it became part of my routine. I began to see my mistakes, where I was lacking, what needed more work. My attitude changed, I evolved.

My son sent me a text the other day and said “Mom! I have a new topic for your next post!” He wanted me to write about how to be motivated to get up in the morning and go for a run. It seems the heat index was preventing him from running in the afternoon – his favorite time to run. It had been hard for him to adjust to waking up early and going for that run.

I thought about it and couldn’t come up with an answer. I had no words of advice. I think now the problem has been solved.

Eventually your sport becomes a part of you so much so that you can’t imagine a day without it. At first, you may have to go through the motions: moult, expand, harden and develop again. Inside this process is an evolution.

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Today, my trophy is a Green Sash and it is a result “of a change.” It was bitter-sweet when Sifu told me I knew all but two things from the Blue Belt test. But, there is a year’s worth of metamorphosis that I do not yet have under my belt and I understand that.

For my son and the others that find it difficult to run at a time other than your favorite time, it is part of the metamorphosis. Hang in there.

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